Entrepreneurship – a viable career option for foreign students in Finland

More and more foreign students come to study in Finland, and according to CIMO (Center for International Mobility) 2/3 of the students stay in the country after finishing their studies. However, it is not always so easy to find job opportunities due to the current economic situation. Therefore, one great alternative to take into account is starting one’s own venture.

So what does it really take to start a business in Finland? Together with high motivation and willingness to take risks, foreign entrepreneurs also have to go through certain permission processes. These processes vary depending on the type of company to be established, and whether the to-be-entrepreneur comes from a country inside the EU/ETA zone or not.

However, the rule of thumb is that you can start a company already during your studies, and are allowed to use maximum 25 hours/ week for the company´s activity. This is highly recommended, since the permit for self-employment is easier to get after graduation when the company has been established already during the studies because it usually takes some time to build a profitable business.

A few weeks ago Helsinki Think Company organized an event for foreign students in order to create a better understanding among the students about entrepreneurship in Finland. The event was definitely a great success, and Think Company´s venue at Vuorikatu was full of foreign students interested in learning more about academic entrepreneurship. Speakers from various areas of professional expertise were giving information worth knowing if one is willing to start his or her own business.


ELY-center´s role in the process is to make a partial decision to the application for residence permit for self-employment whereas the police or the Finnish Immigration Service will make the final decision. Several type of information must be provided, such as: Company´s extract from the trade register, description of the business concept, profitability calculation, the latest final accounts, and signed agreements with customers and partners – just to mention a few. The information needed also depends on the business field and how long the company has been operating.

Entrepreneurship adviser Hannele Kostiainen from YritysHelsinki (EntrepriseHelsinki) mentions that academic entrepreneurship has become more popular in recent years. Therefore, the information about what does it takes to be an entrepreneur in Finland, and how to tackle the bureaucracy involved seems to be highly needed at the moment.

According to EnterpriseHelsinki, when having a business idea, setting up a business starts with the business plan including financial plan and profitability calculations. After creating a business plan, an entrepreneur should sort out the need for licencies, arrange financing and choose the form of enterprise (sole trader, partnerships, limited company, or co-operative). Then follows the start-up notification to the Finnish Business Information System, the Trader Register and Tax Administration with the same Y form. Final stages are the insurance and organization of accounting, after which operations and further development follow.

Due to the popularity of the event, we will organize something similar in the future – so stay tuned! Meanwhile, you can contact EnterpriseHelsinki (or, if you are living outside of Helsinki, contact your local enterprise services) and arrange a meeting if you are interested in starting your own business.



CIMO: link (visited 6.5.2015)